Summer beer festivals have become a ubiquitous event for most cities nationwide, and whilst a far cry from Oktoberfest, the most notable example in Chongqing takes place in early September on Nanbin Lu, the south bank river road of the Yangtze, just as the summer heat begins to subside.
Today, I saw the eye catching advertisement for this year’s event, and resolved to attend one night between the 5th and 9th in September.
In addition to beers from all over the world, there should be plenty of entertainment in the form of cinematic art and musical performances.
Stay tuned to learn how the event unfolds in a personal account!
September 5th – 9th 2019
5pm – 10pm
Yanyu Park, Nanbin Lu, Nan’an District
The Day Itself
A hectic day’s schedule threatened to derail my planned visit for a while, but the resolve to experience the event and complete this post prevailed come the evening.
Since beeer festivals virtually necessitate the consumption of some alcohol at least, we took a Didiche滴滴车 private taxi down to Yanyu Park on the Nanbin Lu river road.
For a short while, things didn’t look promising. As we crossed the Yangtze ringroad bridge, torrential rain blurred our view out of the windows, as fierce bolts of lightning shot down a mere kilometre away. Our trip seemed over before it had even began.
As luck would have it, we drove out of the downpour, and by the time we reached the roadside adjacent to the beer festival, there wasn’t a drop of rain to be felt. Chongqing is certainly big enough to have completely separate weather phenomena at the same time.
There was no missing the festival once we drove onto Nanbin Lu past the flashy 1891 Mall. The main entrance was opposite the two golden towers of the Sheraton Hotel, where a turnoff also leads down the banks to a number of floating restaurant ships on the Yangtze, ablaze with colour after nightfall.
A ticket sets the visitor back 20 yuan, and includes a voucher each redeemable for a can of Chongqing’s finest ‘Mountain Beer’ once your inside.
The payment method of choice was scanning the QR code at the ticket desk, then reporting the phone number used to purchase the tickets to get inside. A piece of cake!
On the Ground
Clearly, Chongqing Pijiu重庆啤酒 was the event organiser, since the only alternative alcoholic beverage was a local brand going by the name of Art Brew. Their yellow tent at the far end offered a good range of yellow, white, red and black beers.
A friendly and attractive young lady called Jude added me on Wechat, and allowed me a roll on the AB wheel of fortune. I gave it a good push, and we waited a fair while to learn the result was better luck next next time. Not wishing to arouse displeasure with the entourage, I ended the friendly encounter and walked off with a pint of black beer.
All the way through, the centre stage switched between lively and entertaining performances. Singers, dancers, competitions, and smooth talking hosts made sure the pangs of boredom were kept well away.
We explored all the stalls inside. Apart from the Chongqing Pijiu beer exhibits, we passed others selling Mongolian barbecue, spicy Chongqing tofu, aubergine, shellfish, and brine boiled goose wings. Moving on, there was a Hainan cocunut drinks stall, then the Chinese fastfood outlet Dicos, which had piles of chicken sandwiches and other snacks on offer.
The perimetre encompassed most of the riverside park, so it didn’t feel overcrowded, even with the high number of people inside, but it was also small enough to navigate around within a few minutes.
Out of all the possible locations in Chongqing, Nanbin Lu is indeed the best option in my view. The backdrop is stunning in every direction. You can see the bright lights of the Yuzhong peninsula, up and down the Yangtze alongside, and the snazzy skyline of Nan’an District, with the up-class hotels and gigantic malls running the length of the palm tree lined river road.
We would have happily stayed longer, but we couldn’t find a free table to sit at, friends we hoped could make it weren’t able to join us, and family commitments back home eventually beckoned us out.
Overall, it was definitely a worthwhile trip, but there is still a little room for improvement.
Since Chongqing Pijiu and AB are the only alcoholic beverages on sale, and all the snacks are Chinese, it’s a bit far-fetched to brand the event as international. I do hope the organisers make the occasion more inclusive to more exotic brands in the future.
The other area for improvement is the general cleanliness. As we walked about, the tables were stacked high with empty paper bowls, skewers and plastic cups, while rubbish bags stood unattended around the outside. Easier said than done, I have to admit, seeing the large number of merry patrons and the brisk business going on.
A final piece of advice is to arrive early to guarantee a table, if you want one for the evening. Once the crowds start pouring in at 5pm, you can expect all the tables to be snapped up very quickly, and most people seem to stick around until closing time.
Nevertheless, if you’re around Chongqing in early September one year, I would most definitely recommend you visit the beer festival for at least one evening, based on our experience tonight.